Job Ad Sparks Speculation on Apple Crypto Plans

by Emma Newbery | Updated July 21, 2021 - First published on May 28, 2021

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Is Apple planning to accept cryptocurrency payments?

A job posting from Apple set the cryptocurrency rumor mill into overdrive this week, and industry observers suggested the tech giant might be working on crypto wallet payments.

The listing for a Business Development Manager to lead Apple's alternative payment partnerships section was first spotted by Coinbase. It asked for candidates who had five years of experience with alternative payment providers, including digital wallets, buy now pay later (BNPL) services, and crypto.

The ad prompted speculation that Apple will enter the cryptocurrency playing field in the near future. If it does, it will be another strong signal that cryptocurrencies has gained mainstream acceptance.

Apple and cryptocurrency

Mobile wallet usage is increasing, as are the number of retailers that accept mobile payments. According to a recent report from eMarketer, Apple Pay is the top choice for mobile payments in the U.S. It currently has almost 44 million users and over 14 million more are expected to sign up before 2025.

But Apple has had an on-off relationship with crypto so far. Back in 2013, it banned cryptocurrency wallets from its App Store. It later reversed that decision but still does not allow mining apps.

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This latest move to hire an alternative payments manager follows a February RBC Capital Markets report, which stated Apple Pay had a "clear opportunity" when it came to cryptocurrencies. The report suggested that Apple had the technology to give its users an easier and more secure way to buy and sell crypto.

What might this mean for crypto?

The world's first cryptocurrency, Bitcoin (BTC), was designed as a decentralized digital currency. The idea was to let people make payments without needing a third party, such as a bank, to act as a middleman.

Bitcoin's use of blockchain technology was revolutionary, as it offered a secure and tamper-proof payment system. But it is not perfect.

As a digital payment system, Bitcoin is hampered by numerous issues, including:

  • Relatively slow transaction speed
  • High carbon footprint
  • Heavy price fluctuations

However, with millions of potential customers, a crypto-enabled Apple Pay would be another big step toward mainstream acceptance. Not just for Bitcoin, but for many types of cryptocurrency, especially all of the faster, more sustainable currencies that have come to market in the 12 years since it was launched.

If we consider the goal of allowing all customers to use digital currencies, there are several groups approaching the problem from different directions. Here are just a few:

  • Retail brands: Big brands such as Amazon, Starbucks, and Uber now accept cryptocurrency through third-party apps like Bitrefill and Bakkt.
  • Crypto exchanges: Leading cryptocurrency exchanges are making crypto more accessible and user-friendly than ever. Not only can you buy and sell crypto, you can spend it using a prepaid crypto debit card. And there are plans for credit cards to offer Bitcoin rewards this year, too.
  • Payment processors: Mainstream payment processors like Visa are working on processing crypto-only payments. Right now, if you make a payment using a crypto debit card, it first has to convert your cash into traditional (fiat) money which makes it more complicated.
  • Digital wallets: Several digital wallet and payments apps, like Paypal, Venmo, and Square, have already embraced cryptocurrencies. At some point, we may be able to add Apple Pay to that list.

All these industries are looking to help their customers engage with or use crypto in different ways. If Apple allowed its customers to buy, sell, and use cryptocurrencies, it would be another huge step forward. But it will be a while before we know what the new alternative payments manager is being hired to do.

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